My favourite word fo the day, discovered reading an article by Julie Powell that I randomly came across online: stultifying – to make, or cause to appear, foolish or ridiculous. To render absurdly or wholly futile or ineffectual, especially by degrading or frustrating means: Menial work can stultify the mind.
I have to confess, I am a bit of a brownie addict. And it has become somthing of a mission of mine to make as many different variations of chocolate brownies as I can get my hands on. So when I came across the Fat Witch Brownies cook book when I was making my last self-indulgent-multiple-unnecessary-cookbook purchase, I had to have it. Even though it had to ship all the way from the states and took a few weeks to get here. I was worth the wait.
So browsing through the many, many incredibly delicious looking recipes, I came across the Gingerbread Bars, and as I have not make anything gingerbready for a long time, and trying out a new book is as good an excuse as any to make something utterley delicious and naughtily decadent, I jumped right in.
There is something magical about the combination of brown sugar, treacle and spices. They meld together to form the most glorious dark, rich, gooey, aromatic mixture. And treacle is just, uh, interesting to work with. How do you get it out of the tin? WHY do they still sell it in mini paint tin type tins? I know its adorably historical but you CANNOT get it out without making a mess all over the rim that then cements the lid and the next time you need access to the contents you do actually need an actual screwdriver to get it open. There MUST be a better way people!? Anyway, I like a challenge, so the treacle tin was tackled with something less than perfect ladylike finesse, but it was SO worth it in the end.
The smell that will fill your kitchen, living room, and any other room without a closed door, is something like Christmas. Its sweet and warm and deliciously intense and passers by will be undeniably drawn to your oven. They will not be able to help themselves. Hence my neighbour ended up taking a tinful of the finished article home. You have been warned.
So brownie book attempt 1 is complete. Next, the white chocolate brownies, blondies, whatever they’re called. Yes, I know white chocolate is more fattening than dark chocoalte, and I know that I am unable to run due to calf muscle malfunction, but I can’t help it. I am feeling better-ish and will re-commence running on the weekend and run it all off. Or at least some of it. 1 bite at least. I have no willpower, *sigh*.
Slightly Adapted from Fat Witch Brownies by Patricia Helding
Makes 12-16 bars
What you will need:
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
3/4 cup molasses
2 large eggs
2 1/4 cups plain flour
1 1/2 tbsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 tsp orange zest (or if you are all out of oranges like I was, a few drops of orange essence)
1/3 cup dark chocolate chips (optional)
Grease a 9-inch x 9-inch baking pan with butter. Dust with flour and tap out the excess. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Cream the butter and brown sugar in a large bowl with a hand beater or in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment until creamy and smooth. Add the molasses and continue to mix. Beat in the eggs one at a time.
Whisk the flour, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and baking soda in a medium bowl and set aside.
Combine the buttermilk and orange zest in a small bowl and set aside.
Beat one-third of the flour mixture into the butter mixture, then beat in one-third of the buttermilk mixture. Do this twice more until all the ingredients are well combined. Stir in the chocolate chips, if desired.
Pour the batter evenly in the prepared baking pan and bake for 30 minutes or until the top bounces back when you press it gently and the sides are starting to pull away from the edges.
Remove from the oven and cool on a rack for 1 hour. Cut just before serving (with cream or ice cream if you are feeling decadent).